OCEANA COUNTY, Mich. – It’s the first thing you hear when you learn to ride a bike, but often the last thing many think to do when actually riding. One Oceana County boy can tell you though, wearing a helmet may be the most important thing you do before hopping on your bicycle.
12-year-old Zachary Hall was visiting his grandparents in Pentwater this week, and Tuesday, he hit the road on his new bike to pick up some worms from the corner store before a day of fishing. Kyle Jones, Hall’s grandfather, said his grandson had gotten the new bike for his birthday and was always a safe rider, so he had little worry.
As Hall went to cross a busy intersection across from the store, he was hit by a van who simply didn’t see Hall coming out from the side street. Hall was thrown from his bike and his helmet, smashed into several pieces. But Hall - save a few bumps, bruises and scratches - walked away from the incident unscathed. It’s a terrifying reminder that accidents can strike at any time, but being prepared can make a life-saving difference.
"He was saved from serious injury or possibly death from wearing this simple implement here that a lot of kids have,” said Oceana County Lt. Craig Mast. "He was going to buy worms to go fishing, and he may very well be fishing yet today, but if he hadn't been wearing this, it's hard telling what might have happened."
"We’re feeling really lucky,” added Kyle Jones, Zachary’s grandfather, “and we're congratulating Zach for being smart enough to wear a helmet all the time."
The driver of that van won’t be facing any charges, as Oceana County Sheriff’s officials say this was merely an accident. Deputy Dean Wiegand deserves special recognition after footing the bill for a new bike for Zachary, the same exact one he was riding that day.
Deputy Wiegand, Lieutenant Mast and the entire Oceana County Sheriff’s Department will now take Zachary’s broken helmet along with them to events and speaking engagements to prove the benefits of putting safety first.
As for Zachary, he has a simple message for others out there who might debate the use of a helmet.
"I used to not when I was littler but now I do,” said Zachary. "It’s better to be safe than sorry."